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CUFF 2018 Interview: Sara Koppel

“I simply just LOVE doing my animations on paper with pencils. And of course it takes time to do… but the greatest gift is the art of doing, in my opinion.”

Still from “1st Day & Next Minute” of two hand drawn characters against a black and yellow bulls eye background

MUFF has enjoyed interviewing filmmakers from Toronto-based festivals but this year we are branching out so we can reach more filmmakers and communities, starting with the Calgary Underground Film Festival!

Read our other CUFF interviews here.

There’s something absolutely fascinating to me about animation. I think it’s partially due to the fact that I can’t draw at all and respect the hell out of people who can but you also can’t ignore how downright magical it is that lines drawn on paper literally come to life.

Sara Koppel’s 1ST DAY & NEXT MINUTE is an energetic few minutes and somehow those minutes went by all too fast and felt like a glorious eternity. Both of the characters featured in 1st Day Next Minute are oozing with style but it’s the rabbit-girl (as Koppel describes her) who is the hero. She’s sex and punk and responsibility and just trying to figure it all out. And if you can’t relate to that then I don’t know what to tell you.

Animator Sara Koppel drawing with a pencil on paper.

Sara Koppel has been animating since she was 14 and still does it old-school style, like a badass: by hand with paper and pen. She started her own studio in 2002, when many companies were shifting to CGI, and she continues to hand draw to this day. Her shorts include the thought provoking Seriously Deadly Silence (2015), the sex-educational Little Vulvah & Her Clitoral Awareness (2013), and the erotic Naked Love — Ea’s Garden (2012) and have screened all over the world and received more than 20 awards.

You can see 1ST DAY & NEXT MINUTE at Calgary Underground Film Festival as part of the Shorts: A Turn For The Worst programme. Watch the trailer below!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with filmmaking.

Sara Koppel: I started in the Danish animation industry at 14-years-old as a kind-of coincidence. I was quiet unsuitable in school—a totally hyper energy punk-kid. I couldn’t sit still and got totally bored. In school we were going to visit different places as a kind of short internship and I got to go to this very small animation studio and loved it right away. So I drop out of school and just continued working at different animation studios in Copenhagen. In 2002 I started my own very small independent animation studio. I wanted to make my own small films with themes & issues that were on my mind & heart.

Tell us about “1st Day & Next Minute.” Where did the idea come from?

SK: I have been making different erotic animation shorts and with this one I wanted to tell a short poem-ish fusion about some the contradictions in my life: Energy / Lust / Motherhood / Responsibility / Punk / Gender Questions. The idea for the character (rabbit-girl) is a kind of a self-portrait I invented when earlier last year I made this music video for a Danish hardcore punk band and I tried out this character in some small scenes. I just wanted to make a lot more with her… I think she is quite expressive & ultra fun to draw.

Do you create most of your works alone or do you have collaborators?

SK: I work as a old-school-author type… I do it all myself, except for music & sound, where I work with the same composer for all of my productions. And luckily he works with one of my daughters as a voice actor & singer so this is a very close working relationship.

Are there are a lot of animators still creating by hand on paper or has computer animation taken over?

SK: I simply just LOVE doing my animations on paper with pencils. And of course it takes time to do… but the greatest gift is the art of doing, in my opinion. More & more animators are doing their animation on computer and I totally understand it & love the look at it, but I am not there yet. :)

Still from “1st Day & Last Minute” featuring two hand drawn characters.

The music fits with the animation and story so well. Was it made especially for the film?

SK: The music is composed TO the film. So it fits every mode / atmosphere / energy / and is cut perfectly. We work very close: I bring up my idea for music & sound, and then the composer Sune Køter Kølster gives his take on it. So you can say that I give kind of precise ideas but then he has total freedom to express his form of art in it.

Tell us about why you are a feminist and why it’s important to your filmmaking.

SK: I felt like there was a gap in the atmosphere about women’s sexuality & gender issues. And my way of expression is animation. I combined these things and began to make short films to open up dialogue between us all. So I made Naked Love — Ea’s garden, a sensual trip through Ea’s
sexuality in a surrealistic abstract poetic film, as a contribution to feminist porn/eroticism. After that I made Little Vulvah and her Clitoral Awareness, about a little girl who discover her clitoris & sexuality. Everyone is born as a sexual human in all different ways. And it continues to evolve through life, but I felt the big taboo that it is HERE also when we are children.

What’s the best advice about filmmaking you’ve ever received?

SK: The best advice I’ve got, still continue to use & also say when I teach animation is…. Work. Do it. Practice. Do not hold back. Make a lot of small movies. Get them out. Get responses.

If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it?

SK: I love being outside. Walking on the streets. Every extra hour I get beside drawing, I would go outside.

What are you working on now/next?

SK: Now I am working on a new short film about Embraces & the touch of Skin Hopefully it will be finished this year. :)

Finally, recommend one #MUFFApproved film for our blog readers!

SK: At the moment I would recommend the short animated film Intimity by Elodie Dermange about a female pornstar and her way into the art of filmmaking. It is very beautiful & sensual.

Learn more about Naked Love Film: Website | Facebook

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